Dear Fellow Youth Worker:
As you are more than aware, our culture is continuing to change and transform at a pace that is next to impossible to keep up with. And more than the changing clothing and music styles is the dramatically changing worldview that informs our students understanding of themselves and the world they live in.
For many of us, our students are living in an increasingly post-Christian world where the ideals, values, stories that are molding and shaping them are increasingly far from the Judeo-Christian worldview of our childhood.
Sure, many of our students know the right words and actions that will help them succeed and thrive within our ministry contexts, but the “real world,” the world in which they spend 98% of their life, is completely different.
Chap Clark calls this world the world beneath and it is dramatically different then the world we live in.
But instead of freaking out about this “other” world or instead of trying to break in and fit in, or instead of trying to mange and fix it, what if we simply saw our selves as true cross cultural missionaries and engaged it on their terms. Like some of the best missionaries who went to China, New Guinea, and parts of Africa, we too must leave behind our cultural baggage and seek to find the “thin place” where the gospel of Jesus Christ truly is good news to this new generation.
The book we're releasing today was written to wrestle through this cross cultural missionary endeavor.
From the Pen to the Palace recognizes that our students are far from a Judeo-Christian worldview and therefore our language of sin, rebellion, and even brokenness are lost on them. I would like to argue that our students felt need is that they are alienated and alone, and the good news is that they are invited into the family of God through adoption in Jesus Christ. And as adopted kids they are entitled to all the rights and responsibilities that come with such a high honor.
Using the story of the Prodigal Son as a shipping illustration, I explore an alternative ending to the story. In this ending, the prodigal son never returns, and in fact gets married and settles down in the culture of the Pig Pen. And after a few generations, his grand kids know nothing of the Palace that their grandpa lived in.
Even as these grand-kids of the Prodigal Son are living the only life they know in the Pen, their presence is missed in the Palace. The call of the decedents of the Older Brother are to align their hearts with the King of the Palace, and to model the love of their savior Jesus. They are called to leave the comfort of the Palace, head off to the distant land, and invite their distant cousins back to the full and abundant life that comes from loving and serving the King!
Like you, I love students and desperately want them to know, love, and serve Jesus. This book is an attempt to reach our post-Christian students with the good news of Jesus in a way that they can understand and helps the church with language and expectations so as to help our newly adopted sisters and brothers fully embrace all the rights and responsibilities that come from being a child of the King.